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Alabama and Tennessee:

Building Resilient Classrooms Amid Divergent PerspectivES

Enjoy the beautiful South from the famous civil rights landmarks in Alabama to the sweeping Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. Explore the ideas behind building resilient classrooms by facilitating courageous conversations and creating safe spaces in the classroom. Engage in dialogue through workshops, lectures, and informal discussions around the campfire. Discover the history of the South from before the pilgrims to the antebellum era and the civil war to the civil rights era and beyond. Relax in the tranquil mountain landscape through yoga, easy hikes and good food.

Alabama: Stories from the Bus Boycotts and Beyond


The first part of the program will take us to Alabama to hear some of the stories of the people and places of the civil rights era and visit important landmarks around Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery. These stories include Rosa Parks and the bus boycotts and the children's crusade of Birmingham. In our mutual discussions with presenters and participants we will consider what it means to be a good citizen and explore the transformative role of ordinary citizens as well as organizations in bringing about change. In Huntsville participants will also learn about the Antebellum era and visit the International Space Station.  

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Tennessee: Courageous Conversations in

the Smoky Mountains Retreat 

The second part of the program will have us relax in the Great Smoky Mountains, enjoy hikes and good food and participate in workshops that give educators tools to encourage and facilitate courageous conversations and safe spaces. These tools will transcend the rhetoric of “civil discourse” to include the important strategies of learning how to deal with our fears and biases and expect and accept vulnerability, openness and some discomfort as part of the difficult discussions we can be having in our classes and communities.

Nashville: 1-Night Music Getaway

The optional Nashville add-on (which may be offered if there is enough interest) will take participants from the Smoky Mountains to the cradle of country music. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame or the African American Museum of Music - or both. There will also be an opportunity to enjoy live bands on roof top terraces for lunch or dinner.


Cultural Highlights


Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice

Gee’s Bend Quilt Collective 

US Space and Rocket Center

Antebellum era history tour


Clingmans Dome in the Smoky Mountains

and other memorable places

Civil war walking tour

Craft collective

Stay in cabins in the Smoky Mountains


The Country Music Hall of Fame or

African American Music Museum 

Open air roof top terraces with food and music

Note: Details on the itinerary may still change


All interested educators and administrators are encouraged to apply. Non-educator guests will be considered based on availability.


Alabama and Tennessee with a short drive into North-Carolina


Alabama: July 19-23

Tennessee: July 23-26

(Possible Nashville add-on: July 26-27)


Alabama: Stories from the Bus Boycotts and Beyond $1050, 4 nights

Tennessee: Courageous Conversations in the Smoky Mountains Retreat $900, 3 nights

Nashville: Possible 1 night add-on, $280, 1 night   

Alabama and Tennessee package, $1950, 7 nights

The whole package! -Alabama, Tennessee and Nashville, $2105, 8 nights


Shared accommodations in hotel rooms or cabins, most meals, activities and local travel 


Travel to and from Alabama/Tennessee, upgrades to different rooms, some meals and snacks, possible additional activities, travel insurance, souvenirs and other personal items

COVID statement

Social distancing will be enforced and masks will be mandatory. Only a limited amount of programming will take place in public spaces. GEA will require all participants to have had their second Covid vaccination dose by the time that the program starts. Guests will overnight in shared hotel accommodations while in Alabama and in cabins in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Single room add-ons will be possible for a fee. 

Priority Consideration: April 20th

Final deadline (if spaces are available): May 15th 

Zoom interviews will be held through mid May and all selection decisions will be made by May 20th, 2021. A program deposit of $300 (refundable in case of illness or other serious circumstance) will be due upon acceptance. Program balance must be paid in full by July 15, 2021.


See our Flier Above

Guides and Presenters

Click photos for more information


Dr. Kara Mitchell Viesca


 Joi Brown


  Greg Hill

Funding Opportunities
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